Thursday, 4 June 2009

How it Started

Back in the late 1980s, I had finished my Licence at the Lebanese University and was starting an M.A. in English literature. The campus in Fanar had a lovely library, with a long but small reading room and, at the back of it, double doors opening onto the shelving room. The room was huge (by Lebanese standards), very well lit (with big windows on the sides), and spacious enough between the two rows of shelves.

This is where my interest in the Far-East in general and in Buddhism in particular was given substance in the surprisingly rich collection I found there. From Buddhism to Zen to Haiku, the journey is quite natural, and I ended up breathlessly but ecstatically going over R. H. Blyth's four volumes on Haiku.

I remember spending many hours inside the sun-lit library appreciating the brevity, directness, and, paradoxically, the suggestiveness of a three-line poem from which everything but the essence of the moment had been removed.

Standing like small jewels, Haiku are a reminder of the ephemerality of all things, but also console us that the "here and now" is well worth living and experiencing.

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